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Desalination No Panacea

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Desalination is a process of making fresh water out of salt water. This is a process that is being utilized more and more in arid parts of the world that have ocean access. The demand for water in arid and drought conditions environments has made desalination the poster child for fresh water demands. Desalination is not a perfect silver bullet for water needs. The amount of fossil fuel energy just to get one swimming pool of fresh water equals 7500 KWH. The reverse osmosis of salt water can create fresh water that has high boron content which can have an impact on animal life and agriculture, and it can reduce calcium and carbonate concentrations, making the water acidic enough to damage pipes. The desalination process does create a brackish waste problem too. The brackish mix contains high salt content and chemicals derived from the reverse osmosis process. The disposal of this waste can have an impact in landfills if its allowed to seep into ground aquifer, or back into maritime environments. Desalination has become a hot topic within the Middle East as water shortages have become a growing problem. The next war in the Middle East may not be over territory and religion, but over who has access to fresh water.

John Vlahakis

Florida Desalination Plant
Florida Desalination Plant

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